You make many decisions in the morning: Do you risk hitting the snooze button for the fourth time? Should you have frozen waffles again or get fancy with some steel-cut oats? And the kicker, what should you wear? But here’s a decision you might not make, well, at least not consciously: to be kind. Here’s what we mean, choose to set the intention of your day to be kind to others and yourself. If it helps, speak it into existence. As you lie in bed reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of your blankets, say, “today I’m going to be kind.” Yes! Doesn’t that feel great? To help you on your way, we’ve come up with five simple ways to show kindness.
So, why should you choose kindness today? For one, it gives you a purpose beyond your mood and circumstances. For instance, maybe you slept poorly, have a lot of work outstanding, and are worried about the state of the world. If you let such conditions dictate your life, then odds are you’ll be too self-absorbed to offer genuine kindness to others. Remember, you have control over yourself and your actions, so choose kindness despite the circumstances.
Do good, feel good
Being kind feels good. With each smile you evoke, your brain rewards you with oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” While we know you’re not in the kindness game for yourself, it is nice to know that oxytocin can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and boost your immune system. Again, only in it for the altruism.
Kindness is also about feeling a sense of community. For many, belonging is essential, yet we focus more on how others accept us and not enough on how we contribute. Performing genuine acts of kindness within your community builds relationships, helps others feel accepted, and strengthens such bonds during difficult times.
In the words of Glen Campbell: “You got to try a little kindness.”
Here are five simple ways to show kindness today.
1. Put some thought into your next compliment
So you’ve committed to kindness, and now compliments are flowing like a mighty river. The mailperson has a great smile; your co-worker wore a cute sweater; your server has impeccable manners. Everyone is getting swept away. But we think you can do even better.
While a passing compliment can indeed change someone’s day, why not put some thought into one for a more personal connection. For instance, write down five things you like most about a friend. Don’t be afraid to get particular. If they have an excellent way of making you laugh harder than anyone else, put it on paper. Once you have your list, either give them a call or text it to them.
2. Write a letter
No one gets to where they’re at in life without the help of others. Sadly, we don’t always get the opportunity to thank everyone for what they’ve contributed to our lives.
Sometimes a person’s impact on our lives isn’t recognized until years later. Maybe a strict teacher taught you a valuable lesson about life that didn’t click until your 30s. Tough love is still a form of love.
Writing a letter is a great way to say thanks, even if it’s for something that happened years earlier. Take your time and be specific. Let them know you are thinking of them and that they impacted your life. That’s kindness, signed, sealed, and delivered! And in the sad circumstance that a person has left you too soon, you can still say thanks in memory. Write a letter to them, thanking them for all they did for you. Whether you hang on to the message or give it to someone close to them, it will still feel rewarding.
3. Stranger Favor
Your kindness can extend beyond your colleagues, friends, and family. While you’re out and about, pay attention to small acts you can do for strangers. For example, let someone ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Tell them you’re not in a rush and don’t mind.
Pay for someone’s coffee at the cafe, or pick up the tab for a table of first responders out to lunch. Also, don’t forget about the service workers. Leave 50% or more tip for your barista or server.
Go out of your way to thank your mailperson, city workers, and any other hardworking person that doesn’t get enough credit.
You get the idea!
4. Listen to this
Sometimes showing kindness is as simple as listening. While we all spend much of our lives worrying and contemplating our problems, we can benefit from listening to someone else. If someone you know is struggling with work, relationships, etc., take the time to listen. Further, you might even need to cancel some of your plans. Doing so shows empathy.
Now that you’ve made time to listen, you need actually to listen. Doing so means letting go of any agenda you may have. For example, don’t enter the conversation with a plan to help; save that for after you’ve listened. It would help if you let the person you’re helping do the talking; only respond when they ask for your thoughts or advice. Consider asking more questions than giving answers. This will create an atmosphere of safety and honesty.
5. Share a book
Similar to a thoughtful compliment, sharing a book with a friend, family or colleague shows you’re thinking about them. We’ve all done this before. After finishing a book, you think, “so-and-so would love this.” Instead of only telling them about it, go a step further and lend them the book. Leave it on their desk or front door with a letter explaining why it made you think of them. After they finish reading, take them out for coffee to discuss.
While meditating, think of someone you know, or even a stranger you passed on the sidewalk, and wish them well. As you take deep and slow breaths in and out, imagine that person smiling, feeling happy, and accomplished. Doing so is known as Loving-Kindness meditation.
Moreover, you can extend your loving-kindness meditation to yourself. Imagine someone you love standing by your side, sending you warm wishes and happiness. Remember, treating yourself with kindness is just as important as sharing it with others.
Kindness only goes away if we let it. Everyone has the volition to say something nice or perform a generous act. Even if it isn’t reciprocal, acting with kindness is consistently rewarding. So when you wake up and start to get down about the state of the world, commit to kindness. At the very least, you’ll know you did your part.
Hey, did we mention how much we like your outfit today? You look amazing!
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